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How does the Affordable Care Act Affect Small Businesses

If you own a small business with 50 or less employees, you can most likely use the Obamacare Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace to offer health insurance to your employees.

But prepare to do some math.

First, determine your SHOP eligibility. As noted above you must have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees (FTEs). And, to use the Federal marketplace ( you have to do business in the United States.

You must have an office or employee work site within the state whose SHOP Marketplace you want to use. You’ll need to find your state’s Marketplace. Find it here.

Affordable Care Act SHOP Employee Head Count

Now, we’re ready to do some math.

Remember those 50 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees? You may have less (or more!) than you thought:

  • Full-time employees are those who worked on average 30 hours or more a week for more than 120 days in a year – or the number of employees you expect to work these hours.
  • Part-time employees are those who worked on average less than 30 hours per week, but more than 120 days per year.

You can use the FTE Calculator to see how many employees SHOP thinks you have. counts FTEs.

You must offer coverage to all your full-time employees. You don’t have to offer coverage to part-time employees, but you can if you want to.

Once you’ve determined how many employees you officially have, you need to do a little more math.

In most states, at least 70% of the employees you offer insurance to must either enroll in your plan or have coverage from another source. Use the SHOP Minimum Participation Rate Calculator to see how many of your employees must accept your offer.

Don’t despair if you don’t meet your minimum participation requirement. You can enroll in SHOP coverage between November 15 and December 15 any year. Those businesses that do meet the requirement can enroll at any time.

Non-profit organizations can also use the SHOP Marketplace if they meet all the requirements.

Do I Qualify For The Tax Credit?

SHOP is also the place to apply for the small business health care tax credit which may cover up to 50% of premium costs. The credit can sometimes be applied retroactively, back to 2010 when the ACA was enacted.
You may qualify for employer health care tax credits if:

  • You have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees
  • Those employees earn an average of about $50,000 a year or less.
  • You pay at least 50% of your full-time employees' premium costs
  • You offer coverage to your full-time employees through the SHOP Marketplace. (You don’t have to offer it to dependents or employees working fewer than 30 hours per week to qualify for the tax credit.)

Dental Coverage Through SHOP

Most medical plans in SHOP – as well as those in the individual Marketplace - do not include dental benefits. To offer these important health services to employees, small business owners will typically need to purchase an additional standalone plan.
For many companies, group dental insurance is often too expensive to offer.  Small businesses struggled just to afford basic health care policies. On average, small businesses will pay about 18% more than a larger business for the same health coverage, according to the Council of Economic Advisers.

Group Dental Plans: The Affordable Alternative to Group Dental Insurance

Dental savings plans for groups offer an affordable alternative to group dental insurance. Similar to a membership buyers’ club, dental saving plan members pay a low annual fee to gain access to a network of participating dentists.

The dentists who participate in a particular plan have agreed to accept a reduced fee – 10%- 60% less than the customary cost - from plan members. Services include annual cleanings, x-rays, crowns, root canals, and bridges. Some plans even include cosmetic and orthodontic procedures, which are not typically covered by insurance. offers innovative turnkey solutions that allows small businesses to offer their employees excellent dental care options. And group dental plans are exceptionally easy to manage; there are no claims to file and no annual limits to track.

Get the details on :Dental Plans offerings for small business.

Learn More About Dental Savings Plans

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Dentists recommend 2 cleanings, 2 check-ups and 1 set of x-rays per year. We're so confident that your plan will pay for itself*, we will refund your money if it doesn't.
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